For years, anyone who questioned the safety of fluoride was cast to the lunatic fringe. Recently, however, science has narrowed in on the so-called “benefits” of fluoride with damning results. Now, approximately 97 percent of tap water in Europe is fluoride free, prompting many people to wonder whether it’s time for the U.S. to take a lesson from these countries.
Fluoride has been paraded as an effective way to keep tooth decay at bay. However, whatever benefits might be attached to fluoride are overshadowed by its risks. A growing number of studies suggest that regularly consuming fluoridated water can impair neurological development and thyroid function.
For instance, Dr. Steven Peckham of the University of Kent oversaw an observational study earlier this year, which found a possible link between fluoridated water and an under-active thyroid, otherwise known as hypothyroidism.(1)
In addition, Dr. Philippe Grandjean, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, oversaw a study which found a correlation between fluoridated water consumption and lower I.Q. His study conducted a meta-analysis reviewing more than 20 other studies, which compared Chinese children exposed to various levels of fluoridated water. According to Grandjean, the difference in performance among these children was seven IQ points.(1)
Fluoride occurs naturally in water. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that adding small amounts of fluoride to public drinking water can help thwart tooth decay. It’s been in practice since the 1940s, and is still in practice in 29 of the country’s largest 30 cities. According to Dr. David W. Tanton, author of Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, And Stimulants – Dangerous Drugs on Trial:
“Epidemiology research in the mid-1970s by the late Dr. Dean Bur, head of the cytochemistry division of the National Cancer Institute, indicated that 10,000 or more fluoridation-linked cancer deaths occur yearly in the United States. In 1989, the ability of fluoride to transfer normal cells into cancer cells was confirmed by Argonne National Laboratories.”(2)
“Fluoride even at dosages of 1 part per million, found in artificially fluoridated water, can inhibit enzyme systems, damage the immune system, contribute to calcification of soft tissues, worsen arthritis and, of course, cause dental fluorosis in children.”(2)
A shifting attitude
Although the fluoridation of water has been widely practiced for decades, the scientific consensus about its so-called benefits is beginning to sway. According to the Cochrane Collaboration, a network of scientists who analyze data to aid public health, the evidence in favor of fluoridated water is muddy. The organization could only find three studies since 1975 that established a credible link between water fluoridation and cavity prevention.
“Their main conclusions were that there was no evidence to suggest that it reduced inequalities in dental health, that there was no evidence to support that it had a positive effect on adult teeth, and that there was no evidence to suggest that if you stopped water fluoridation, levels of decay would increase,” according to Peckham.(1)
Peckham concludes that we don’t know enough about fluoride. “It’s surprising that there hasn’t been a lot of really good-quality research looking at the effects of water fluoridation. If you were to put water fluoridation up now as an intervention, which was to be started, I suspect that on both scientific and ethical grounds, it would not be introduced.” Since we don’t know enough about the health risks and benefits attached to fluoride, why on earth are we putting it in the water?(1)
As the so-called benefits of fluoride continue to be undermined, its many risks continue to be underscored. For the sake of your physical and mental health, don’t swallow the fluoride myth.
(2) Tanton, David. Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, And Stimulants – Dangerous Drugs on Trial: Soaring Heights. 2006.